Makran (Balochi: مکران) (pronounced [mæk'rɑːn]) is a semi-desert coastal strip in the south of Sindh and Balochistan, in Pakistan and Iran, along the coast of the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman. The name Makran derives from Maka, borne by an overlapping satrapy of the Achaemenid Empire.
Maka was an important early eastern satrapy of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Makra corresponds to modern day Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates, plus the northern half of Oman as well as Balochistan and the Sindh province of Pakistan.Cyrus the Great united several ancient Iranian tribes to create an empire.
The word Maka later became Makran as it is common in closely related ancient Avestan and Old Persian languages to use "an" and "ran" at the end of plurals. The Babylonians had also made voyages using Maka to communicate with India. After Cyrus' death Darius I of Persia succeeded his throne. According to Greek historian Herodotus, Darius wanted to know more about Asia. He wished to know where the "Indus (which is the only river save one that produces crocodiles) emptied itself into the sea". After personally leading his elite forces, whose ranks were restricted to those with Persian, Mede or Elamite ancestry, to fight the invading Scythians, he led another conquest towards South Asia. where he conquered Sindh in 519 BC and constituted it as his 20th Satrapy and made use of the ocean there. After the fall of Achaemenid Empire, Alexander also used Maka during his conquest and marched through a harsh desert path in Makran where he lost a significant number of soldiers but did not come across any Baloch force during his conquest except some coastal inhabitants. The harsh desert path is often mistaken as the whole of Makran region. Herodotus on several occasions mentions the contribution of "Mykian" that inhabited the eastern portion of the Achaemenid empire. They are mentioned as "the men from Maka" in daiva inscriptions. The "Daiva inscription" is one of the most important of all Achaemenid inscriptions. They also took part in army of Xerxes the Great at the battle of Thermopylae. The Mykians are also thought to be responsible for many inventions like qanats and underground drainage galleries that bring water from an aquifer on the piedmont to the gardens or palm groves on the plains. These inventions were very important reasons behind the success of the empire. The Mykians of the other side of ancient Maka, the present day region of Balochistan and Sindh had later taken independence because they are not mentioned in the book written by Arrian of Nicomedia about campaigns of Alexander the great but he only mentions the Oman side of Maka which he calls "Maketa". The reasons for this may have been the arguably unjust rule of Xerxes.
Buddhism and Hinduism in the seventh century
Further evidence in the Chachnama makes perfectly clear that many areas of Makran as of Sindh had a largely Buddhist population . When Chach marched to Armabil , this town is described as having been in the hands of a Buddhist Samani (Samani Budda) a descendent of the agents of Rai Sahiras who had been elevated for their loyalty and devotion, but who later made themselves independent. The Buddhist chief offered his alligience to Chach when the latter was on his way to Kirman in 631 .The same chiefdom of Armadil is referred to by Huen Tsang 0-Tien -p-o-chi-lo, located at the high road running through Makran , and he also describes it as predominantly Buddhist , thinly populated though it was , it had no less than 80 Buddhist convents with about 5000 monks . In effect at eighteen km north west of Las Bela at Gandakahar , near the ruins of an ancient town are the caves of Gondrani, and as their constructions show these caves were undoubtedly Buddhist .Traveling through the Kij valley further west (then under the government of Persia) Huien Tsang saw some 100 Buddhist monasteries and 6000 priests . He also saw several hundred Deva temples in this part of Makran , and in the town of Su-nu li-chi-shi-fa-lo-which is probably Qasrqand- he saw a temple of Maheshvara Deva , richly adorned and sculptured . There is thus very wide extension of Indian cultural forms in Makran in the seventh century , even in the period when it fell under Persian sovereignty . By comparison in more recent times the last place of Hindu pilgrimage in Makran was Hinglaj, 256 km west of present day Karachi in Las Bela.
The Historian Andre Wink has recorded Hiuen Tsang's notings on the language and script in use in Makran .
Hiuen Tsang considered the script which was in use in Makran to be 'much the same as India', but the spoken language 'differed a little from that of India
The first Islamic conquest of Makran took place during the Rashidun Caliphate in the year 643 A.D. Caliph Umar’s governor of Bahrain Usman ibn Abu al-Aas, who was on his campaign to conquer the southern coastal areas of Iran send his brother Hakam ibn Abu al-Aas to raid the Makran region, the campaign was not meant for whole scale invasion but merely was a raid to check the potential of the local inhabitants. The raid was successful In late 644 A.D Caliph Umar sent an army for whole scale invasion of Makkuran under the command of Hakam ibn Amr. Reinforcement from Kufa joined him under the command of Shahab ibn Makharaq and Abdullah ibn Utban, the commander of campaign in Karman, also joined them, no strong resistance was faced by them in Makran until the Hindu King of Rai Kingdom in Sind, along with his army having contingents from Makran and Sind stopped them near River Indus. In mid 644, Battle of Rasil was fought between Radhisun Caliphate and Rai Kingdom where Raja's forces were defeated and retreated to eastern bank of river Indus. Raja’s army included War elephants, and they didn’t make any trouble for the Muslims veterans who handled War elephants during the conquest of Persia. According to the orders of Caliph Umar the war elephants were sold in Islamic Persia and the cash was distributed among the soldiers as a share in booty. In response of Caliph Umar’s question about the Makran region, the Messenger from Makkuran who bring the news of the victory told him:
O Commander of the faithful! It's a land where the plains are stony; Where water is scanty; Where the fruits are unsavory Where men are known for treachery; Where plenty is unknown; Where virtue is held of little account; And where evil is dominant; A large army is less for there; And a less army is use less there;The land beyond it, is even worst (referring to Sind)
Umar looked at the messenger and said: "Are you a messenger or a poet? He replied “Messenger”. Thereupon Caliph Umar, after listening to the unfavorable situations for sending an army instructed Hakim bin Amr al Taghlabi that for the time being Makkuran should be the easternmost frontier of the Islamic empire, and that no further attempt should be made to extend the conquests. Thereupon one of the commanders of Islamic army in Makran said the following verses:
If the Commander of faithful wouldn’t have stopped us from going beyond, so we would have bought our forces to the temple of prostitutes.
Referring to the Hindu Temple in interior Sind where prostitutes used to give a part of their earning as alms. It remainned the part of Umayyad Caliphate and Abbasid Caliphate and was also ruled by Muslim Turks, Persians and Afghans. It was conquered by Mongols in 13th century A.D, and in 16th century A.D it became part of Mughal empire, it remained so until it came under the rule of British Empire.
Balochi attack on Mahmud Ghazni
The narrow coastal plain rises very rapidly into several mountain ranges. Of the 1,000 km coastline, about 750 km is in Pakistan. The climate is very dry with very little rainfall. Makran is very sparsely inhabited, with much of the population being concentrated in a string of small ports including Chabahar, Gwatar, Jiwani, Gwadar (not to be confused with Gwatar), Pasni, Ormara and many smaller fishing villages.
The coast of Makran possesses only one island, Astola Island, near Pasni, and several insignificant islets. The coastline can be divided into an eastern lagoon coastline and a western embayed coastline. The main lagoons are Miani Hor and Kalamat Hor. The main bays of the embayed coast are Gwadar West Bay and Gwatar Bay. This latter bay shelters a large mangrove forest and the nesting grounds of endangered turtle species. For irrigation, flood prevention and water supply to Gawadar city Mirani Dam has also been built.
From the 15th century onward, the area was ruled by the Rind tribe which was headed by Mir Chakar Rind. In the late 18th century, the Khan of Kalat is said to have granted sanctuary at Gwadar to one of the claimants for the throne of Muscat. When that claimant became Sultan, he kept hold of Gwadar, installing a governor, who eventually led an army to conquer the city of Chabahar some 200 kilometres to the west.
The sultanate held onto the Makran coast throughout the period of British colonial rule, but eventually only Gwadar was left in the hands of the sultan. On the independence of Pakistan, Makran became a district within the province of Balochistan, minus an area of 800 km² around Gwadar. The enclave was finally transferred in 1958 to Pakistani control as part of the district of Makran. The entire region has been subdivided into new smaller districts over the years.
- Nicolini, Beatrice, The Makran-Baluch-African Network in Zanzibar and East Africa during the XIXth Century, African and Asian Studies, Volume 5, Numbers 3-4, 2006, pp. 347–370(24)
- Al-Hind: Early Medieval India and the Expansion of Islam 7Th-11th
- Eilers, Wilhelm, Das Volk der Makā vor und nach den Achämeniden, AMI Ergänzungsband 10, 1983, 101-119
- "History of Herodotus by Herodotus - Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)". mit.edu. Retrieved 2010-09-11.
- "Iranians and Turanians in Avesta". Ali A. Jafarey. accessdate=2010-09-10.
- "The history of antiquity". Max Duncker. accessdate=2010-09-10.
- "Persia". Angelfire.com. accessdate=2010-09-09.
- "Iranian Provinces: Sistan and Baluchistan". Iranchamber.com. accessdate=2010-09-07.
- "Ancient Persia". Ancientpersia.com. accessdate=2010-09-09.
- "Darius the great". mdc.edu. accessdate=2010-09-10.
- "The largest empire in ancient history". axehd.com. accessdate=2010-09-10.
- "Full Text of Herodotus, Book 7,8 and 9". archive.org. accessdate=2010-10-02.
- "The History, by Herodotus (book7)". cadelaide.edu.au. accessdate=2010-09-07.
- "Maka". livius.org. accessdate=2010-10-1.
- Al-Hind: Early medieval India and the expansion of Islam, 7th-11th centuries By André Wink page 135
- Al-Hind: Early medieval India and the expansion of Islam, 7th-11th centuries By André Wink Page 137
- Al Baldiah wal nahaiyah vol: 7 page 141
- Tarikh al Tabri vol:4 page no: 180
- Tabri vol:4 pg:183
- Denzil Ibbetson, Edward MacLagan, H.A. Rose "A Glossary of The Tribes & Casts of The Punjab & North-West Frontier Province", 1911 AD, Page 43, Vol II,
- Balochistan and Makran, Pakistan
- 'Music of Makran: traditional fusion from coastal Balochistan' from the British Library Sound Archive